The Olympic qualifying event in Cambridge this week has provided an ideal litmus test for New Zealand cycling coaches as they plot their path to the 2016 Rio Olympics and beyond.
The world and Commonwealth champion sprinters led the way with some excellent results, while there was encouraging efforts from proven and promising endurance riders in the three-day event at the Avantidrome. It was the first event to offer qualifying points towards the Rio Olympics, attracting riders from Australia, USA, Malaysia, Ireland, Canada and the Czech Republic.
BikeNZ head track coach Dayle Cheatley said the timing of the UCI event this week has been ideal.
“Across the board it has been a good competition to have coming off the break to sort out where we need to go from here,” Cheatley said. “Overall given the heavy training block the team had and coming back after a three week break, the results have been encouraging and an excellent lead in to the Oceania Championships in three weeks.”
Cheatley gave a pass mark in general this week, buoyed also with the imminent return of a number of endurance riders after their road season.
“Across the board our sprinters were there or thereabouts and only just off their personal bests, with Eddie the exception today with his New Zealand record. Aaron Gate not far off his best in the pursuit which is the area he is working on at present. The women sprinters and endurance riders are showing improvement.”
Cheatley said that the Oceania Championships in Adelaide stands as a key test, with a full strength team of more than 30 riders expected to be selected. The event is a full world championship schedule but over four days, one less than the world championships.
Cheatley was also impressed with some younger riders including the junior world championship winners Regan Gough and Luke Mudgway and also the development of Auckland sprinter Zac Williams.
The Australians, pushed off the top of the sprint podium on the first two days, had their say tonight with Jacob Schmid beating compatriot Shane Perkins in the sprint final 2-1. Earlier Schmid accounted for Thursday’s winner Sam Webster in two straight rides in one semifinal while Perkins used his experience to beat the plucky Williams in the other semi.
It was a sprint double for Australia with Caitlin Ward taking out the women’s final in two straight rides over Steph Mckenzie in a repeat of their battle on Thursday.
Brilliant Australian Ashlee Ankudinoff completed an unbeaten week, claiming the women’s points race after winning all six disciplines of the omnium and two scratch race victories, as she stakes her claim for a recall to the women’s team pursuit combination for the world championships and ultimately the Rio Olympics. She finished clear of Kiwi Lauren Ellis.
Young Southland rider Liam Aitcheson went solo with three laps to go and held on to win the elite men’s scratch race while Australian Scott Law beat off the bunch sprint over Aaron Gate for the minors.
In early race action today, Southland sprinter Eddie Dawkins set the fans buzzing with a New Zealand record in sprint qualifying.
Schmid became the first person to go under the 10 second barrier at the Avantidrome with his brilliant 9.974 effort in qualifying. But Dawkins responded to the challenge, clocking 9.873s to set the fastest time in New Zealand by a New Zealander.
The only upset of the first round was when Williams beat team sprint world champion Ethan Mitchell and he showed that was no fluke when he beat Dawkins to win the quarterfinal.
New Zealand star in the making, Regan Gough impressively won the men’s 40km points race. The 18 year old, who won two junior titles including points at the recent world championships, dominated, putting a lap on the field and going on to win with 46 points from Aaron Gate on 32.
Day 3 results, finals only:
Men qualifying: Eddie Dawkins (NZL) 9.873, 1 (NZ Record); Jacob Schmid (AUS) 9.974, 2; Sam Webster (NZL) 10.103, 3; Patrick Constable (AUS) 10.106, 4; Shane Perkins (AUS) 10.185, 5; Matthew Archibald 10.221, 6; Simon van Velthooven (NZL) 10.379, 7; Ethan Mitchell (NZL) 10.379, 8; Zac Williams (NZL) 10.397, 9; Ben Stewart (NZL) 10.460, 10.
Round 1: Dawkins bt Chris Singleton (CAN), Schmid bt Callum Saunders (WBOP), Webster bt Jeremy Presbury (NZL), Constable bt Jordan Castle (NZL), Perkins bt Muhammad Modh Zonis (MAL), Archibald bt Muhammad Shah Sahrom (MAL), Van Velthooven bt Stewart, Williams bt Mitchell.
Quarterfinals: Williams bt Dawkins 2-1, Schmid bt van Velthooven 2-0, Webster bt Archibald 2-0, Perkins bt Constable 2-0. Semifinals: Perkins bt Williams 2-0, Schmid bt Webster 2-0. 5th to 8th: Dawkins 1, Constable 2, Archibald 3, van Velthooven 4. 3rd – 4th: Webster bt Williams 2-0. Final: Schmid bt Perkins 2-1.
Women, qualifying: Caitlin Ward (AUS0 11.368, 1; Stephanie McKenzie (NZL) 11.498, 2; Katie Schofield (NZL) 11.848, 3; Tess Young (WBOP) 12.194, 4; Shannon McCurley (IRL) 13.346, 5. Semifinals: Ward bt Young 2-0, McKenzie bt Schofield 2-0. 3rd-4th: Schofield bt Young 2-0. Final: Ward bt McKenzie 2-0.
Women 10km scratch: Ashlee Ankudinoff (AUS) 1, Rebecca Wiasak (AUS0 2, Jaime Nielsen (NZL) 3.
Men 40km points: Regan Gough (NZL) 46 points, 1; Aaron Gate (NZL0 32, Scott Law (AUS) 30.
Men 15km scratch: Liam Aitcheson (Southland) 1, Scott Law (AUS) 2, Aaron Gate (NZL) 3.
Women 25km Points: Ankudinoff 38 points, 1, Ellis 24, 2, Nielsen 15, 3.
Men Madison: Regan Gough/Luke Mudgway (East Coast NI) 16 points, 1; Adrian Hegyvary/Hayden McCormick (United Healthcare) 11, 2; Sam Welsford/Alex Porter (Australia) 9, 3.
Men sprint qualifying: Nick Kergozou (Southland) 10.631, 1; Lewis Eccles (Taupo) 11.151, 2; Liam Brown (Manawatu) 11.212, 3; Sam Buckner (NZL) 11.414, 4; Hamish Beadle (Southland) 11.568, 5; Cody Simpson (Manawatu) 11.692, 6. Round 1: Kergozou bt Simpson, Eccles bt Beadle, Buckner bt Brown. Repechage: Simpson 1, Brown 2, Beadle 3. Semifinal: Kergozou bt Simpson 2-0, Eccles bt Buckner 2-0. 3rd-4th: Buckner bt Simpson 2-0. Final: Eccles bt Kergozou 2-1.
Junior Women, sprint qualifying: Emma Cumming (Southland) 12.008, 1; Jaymie King (Taupo) 12.458, 2; Bryony Botha (Auckland) 12.590, 3; Holly White (Auckland) 12.754, 4; Emma Porritt (Te Awamutu) 13.423, 5. Semifinals: Cumming bt White 2-0, Botha bt King 2-1. 3rd-4th: King bt White 2-0. Final: Cumming bt Botha 2-0.
Elimination men: Campbell Stewart (Manawatu) 1, Hamish Beadle (Southland) 2, Nick Kergozou (Southland) 3.
Elimination women: Botha 1, Makayla Smith (Southland) 2, White 3.
Women Scratch: Michaela Drummond (NZL) 1, Bryony Botha (NZL) 2, Madeleine Park (NZL) 3.
Men Scratch: Kergozou 1, Tom Sexton (NZL) 2, Carne Groube (NZL) 3.
CAPTION: Junior world champions Regan Gough hands to Luke Mudgway on their way to victory in the exciting Madison.
Photo courtesy Dianne Manson.